Child abuse has a significant impact on children’s health and well-being. It can impact every aspect of their current and future life including mental health, happiness, employment, educational achievement, relationships and parenting. Organisations working with children have a duty of care to safeguard and protect children from abuse and neglect.
Is it relevant to your organisation?
YES!! An organisation should not assume that child abuse does not or will not happen within their operation. Not only should an organisation be safeguarding and protecting children within their care, they should also consider the significance of reputational risk to their business if they fail to meet this responsibility. Reputational risk could result in significant impact to a business including unwanted media attention, funding withdrawal, loss of revenue, workforce trauma and intense public backlash. This risk is easily avoidable by putting in place effective safeguarding and child protection measures.
This Safeguarding Children free 30 minute webinar discusses the core elements of a child-safe organisation. It provides guidance to develop or enhance existing child-safe elements within an organisation. Start your organisation’s child-safe journey by registering and watching this free webinar.
Why – We know that one of the crucial elements of a child-safe organisation is listening to and valuing the opinions of children and young people. If we ask children and young people what they think about the places they spend in and take on board those views, it sends a message to them that we care about what they have to say. They can tell us things they are unhappy about and we will listen and take that seriously. This act means children and young people are more likely to share their concerns with us and facilitates disclosures of abuse or neglect, thus making your organisation a safer place for children and young people.
How – Use our Children’s Voices activity with associated adult guidance, to complete an activity of asking children and young people for feedback about your organisation
Why – A child protection policy sets out an organisation’s commitment to keep children and young people safe and promote their welfare. It should assist the organisation in responding appropriately and with confidence to child well-being and safety situations which may occur inside and outside their work environment. Having a Safeguarding and Child Protection Policy in place demonstrates an organisation’s commitment to protecting children and young people in their care, provides staff with best practice and encourages positive, healthy relationships. Procedures give clear guidance of how to make it work in practice when responding to concerns.
Why – People may pass a police vet but still be totally inappropriate to work with children because of their behaviour and attitudes towards them.
A Code of Conduct is vital as it provides guidance on appropriate and expected standards of behaviour of those working or volunteering in an organisation towards children and young people. Having a Code of Conduct quickly identifies inappropriate or unsafe behaviour.
Why – Children must be safe in the places that they go. People who want to harm children will seek roles working with them, including volunteering. Safe recruitment is one way of reducing the risk to children.
The Children’s Act 2014 requires a safety check to be completed for every employee who joins an organisation as a core or non-core worker. We recommend these safety checks are extended to include volunteers to prevent those who may harm children from gaining a voluntary role within your organisation.
How – Police vetting and safety checking for everyone including volunteers.
Your HR department or equivalent should have a policy and procedures in place detailing the recruitment process for recruiting children’s workers. These documents should clearly outline expectations to be met regarding safety checks relevant to the vacant position.
Why – Creating a safeguarding culture is a journey that all organisations need to start on and continually work on developing. Policies and Codes of Conduct are important elements to have in place to enable safeguarding. However, if the culture is one that doesn’t place importance on these documents or the reasons for them, the organisation is at risk of their culture over riding their safeguarding intentions and children are at risk in their contact with that organisation. “Culture eats policy everyday”.
How – A safeguarding culture is created by actioning all of these elements listed in these dropdown boxes.
Why – By having a policy that tells staff and volunteers what to do when they are worried about another staff member or volunteer provides one of the elements of safety for people to “whistleblow” on poor, dangerous and abusive practice. What we know from situations where abuse has taken place in organisations is that it will not be reported by those working there unless they feel safe enough and supported to do so. This failure to respond leads to further abuses and risk for all children in touch with that organisation.
How – Write a whistle blowing policy or ensure there is specific reference to the steps people need to take to whistle blow within your child protection policy.
Why – By promoting your commitment to keeping children safe you are advising parents that your organisation takes child safety seriously. It also deters people wishing to harm children from targeting your organisation as “safeguards” are in place.
Put your Child Protection Policy and Code of Conduct on your website.
On induction show parents or carers the policy and ask them to sign it.
Have a sign available in your reception area that states: “Our organisation is committed to keeping children healthy and safe. We may share information with appropriate agencies (such as health and education providers or other agencies involved with your child’s life) if sharing that information will protect or improve the safety, health or well-being of a child. Our agency by law can always share information with Oranga Children and the Police. Further information can be found in our Child Protection Policy on our website: www.ouragency.org.nz“ .
Why – Records of child well-being and safety concerns must be documented to a high standard and managed in a way that allows for effective reviews of those records to analyse for patterns or clusters of concerns regarding a particular children, family or staff/volunteer.
How – Use your organisation’s record management system ensuring child well-being and safety concerns are recorded and are chronologically available.
Keep your eye out for future developments of training and resources to enhance your record keeping.
Why – Having dedicated people to deal with child protection concerns is essential to provide the best outcomes for children. This means that all other staff and volunteers are supported in handling concerns effectively. This role will also ensure that your safeguarding culture is promoted throughout the organisation.
How – This role should be appointed based on interest, suitability and being able to handle difficult conversations. There should be dedicated time allowed for your employee to be spent on this role.
Safeguarding Children have a webinar / seminar on Child Protection Leads where you can find out what your role and responsibilities are.
Why – Training is a crucial element of a child-safe organisation. All staff and volunteers should know the fundamentals of child protection so they can recognise and respond to concerns and understand the reasons for safeguards. Training should be updated regularly to keep current with any legislation changes and best practice.
Why – Children need tools to keep themselves safe.
Safeguarding Children partner with Empowerment Trust who deliver direct training to children and young people via their Kidpower and Teenpower programmes.
The Kidpower approach increases protective factors and reduces risk factors for potential victims of all types of abuse. Empowerment Trust provide strategies, awareness and skills to prevent potentially violent situations from escalating and getting out of control, building healthy relationships and navigating conflict without aggression.
How – Enquire with Empowerment Trust to see what trainings would be suitable for the children and young people in your organisation.
Why – Serious case reviews where children have been seriously harmed tell us that a common theme in these cases is that many people knew and many people had concerns, but there was a lack of information sharing of those concerns between those services who were involved with the child / family. We know from international research and evidence of best practice that working together in addressing child well-being and safety concerns is essential. “Together we can make a difference”.
How – Understand the law around what information you can share and with whom by accessing training on this – complete our Information Sharing webinar.